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The Art of Killing

21 February 2013, 10:01

May you LEGALLY kill another person in South Africa ? In particular with regards to our existing Criminal Acts and Constitutional Laws.

After following the Oscar shooting, and numerous comments and articles relating to the Oscar shooting, it is quite disturbing how many fellow South African proclaim - "I will also shoot a suspected burglar / burglar / anyone I do not know, dead in my house". 

This means that you fellow reader will indeed be facing a MURDER charge as Oscar currently is.

As a registered / legal firearm owner, then you should have attended the relevant training to determine whether you are proficient enough to not only own a firearm, but that you also accept the HUGE responsibility that comes with such firearm ownership.

The right to defend yourself?

In common law, the controlling principle on the right to use force to defend yourself or your property is proportionality: the defensive act must not be more harmful than necessary to stop the attack. This means you need to be in immediate, and life threatening danger, someone standing 50 meters away with a knife in his hand is not an immediate threat to you. Nor is someone standing behind a locked bathroom door an immediate threat to you.

A person attacking you from three odd meters away with a lethal weapon in hand (firearm / panga / knife or similar) is clearly an immediate threat, to which you are entitled to effect the minimum amount of force to stop said threat. (There is NEVER a recommended maximum amount of force).

Self defence as a justification of ones actions, has very clear rules pertaining the engagement of any person attacking you. Firing four shots at a person who is not even holding a firearm pointed at you, or not storming you with a knife / panga / similar, is an act of MURDER. It is NOT an act of self defence, nor is it an act of culpable homicide. You do not shoot someone "accidently" four times.

The actions of police officers, and any private individual attempting to "arrest" a suspect (relating to lethal force) is governed by the criminal procedure Act, in particular -
Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977, (Act no.51 of 1977) (54) (i) "These limitations in no way detract from the rights of an arrestor attemtpting to carry out an arrest to kill a suspect in self-defence or in defence of any other person "

You may want to also read the following article to prevent yourself from ending up like Oscar.

When can I fire ? Use of lethal defence to defend property

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